Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017-18 Wilkes Wrestling Preview: Climbing the Ladder

WILKES-BARRE – The Wilkes University wrestling team continued its success in dual match play both in the region and nationally finishing 20-5 a year ago sending one wrestler to the NCAA Tournament. It marked the tenth straight year that Wilkes has accumulated 15 or more dual wins and the 11th consecutive year a Colonel has earn an NCAA qualification.

Wilkes returns three former NCAA qualifiers in 2017-18, one making a return from a spot in last year’s field while two others made the field as underclassmen. Two-time NCAA qualifier Nicholas Racanelli returns after a trip to the tournament last season while 2015 NCAA champion Matthew Grossmann and 2015 NCAA qualifier Josh Evans also are back in the lineup this season. Evans (10th) and Racanelli (6th) enter the season ranked in their respective weight classes.

Head coach Jon Laudenslager, now in his 15th season at the helm of the storied Wilkes wrestling program, stands 222-88-5 overall including thirteen winning seasons and at least thirteen wins eleven times during his tenure.

The schedule remains loaded with quality opponents and annual tournaments as in years past. Wilkes will wrestle at the Grapple in the Garden in Madison Square Garden for the third straight season on December 10 as well as host the annual Wilkes Open on December 22 at the Marts Center. The Colonels will also make appearances in the NWCA National Duals and NY/PA Duals while traveling to local rival King’s College for the Middle Atlantic Conference Championships on January 20. Also on the schedule are dual matches with TCNJ, Ithaca, Elizabethtown and Centenary.

Weight-by-Weight Preview

125 – Denzel Tovar has emerged as the starter at 125-pounds after the graduation of All-American Guesseppe Rea. Tovar enjoyed a fine rookie campaign finishing 16-4 overall capturing second at the Monarch Invitational and fourth place at the MAC Championships. Sophomore returner Spencer Reed and rookies Alexandra Gundlah and Kyle Trout will add depth to the class. Gundlah will be the first female to wrestler for Wilkes in program history.

133 – Jake Dimarsico enters his senior year as the starter at 133-pounds owning a 24-21 career mark. He went 7-7 last season in and out of the lineup with injuries. Freshman Dylan O’Connor, a New Jersey state qualifier will vie for time behind Dimarsico. Sophomores Patrick Miko and Nick Moullette along with rookie Karl Lindsey comprise the rest of the class.

141 – Grossmann will wrestle at 141 for the second straight year after capturing the NCAA title at 133 as a freshman in 2015. He finished last year with a 31-3 overall record claiming first place at the Messiah Petrofes, Will Abele and MAC Championships. He finished fourth in the Mideast regional, just missing an NCAA qualification. Sophomore Bryce Bernardine and rookies Ezra Neff and Brock Horton will backup Grossmann in the class.

149 – The deepest of the weight classes this season, Kyle Medrow and Josh Evans complete one of the best duos in all of Division III at 149-pounds. Medrow enjoyed one of the finest freshman campaigns in program history finishing 39-13 overall taking third at the MAC Championships and fourth at the regional. Evans finished his sophomore year 8-0 before an injury cut his season short. He owns a 47-16 career mark entering his junior year. Senior Morgan Fuller and junior Bilal Bici round out the class.

157 – Junior Ashton Gyenizs becomes the starter for the first time in his career after going 14-11 last season including a seventh place finish at the Messiah Petrofes. Sophomore Michael Brown returns after going 9-10 as a freshman last year along with rookies Gage Cannavino and Marcus Kassab. Cannavino was a Pennsylvania state qualifier at Athens last year and will be out of the lineup until January due to an injury.

165 – Two-time returning NCAA qualifier Nicholas Racanelli is back to solidify the class at 165-pounds after going 35-9 last year as a junior. He finished third at the Messiah Petrofes and MAC Championships before taking second at the regional to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. Five other Colonels will add depth to the class including Brett McGill, Corbin White, Jason DeBoard, Tyler Snyder and Delaware state champion Brendan Lamey.

174 – John Ritter and Justin Morel will compete for the top spot at 174-pounds this year in just a three-man rotation at the class. Ritter went 18-10 last season as a sophomore taking third at the Will Abele and second at the MAC Championships. Morel went 14-22 as a rookie last year finishing fourth at the MAC championships. Freshman Tyler Green rounds out the class.

184 – Another three-man class, Matthew Judge emerged as the starter following an injury-plagued 2-3 season last year. Judge finished 6-19 two years ago capturing sixth place at the MAC championships. Two rookies, Logan Huling and Andrew Lessig round out the 184-pound class.

197 – Jacob Huling drops down to 197-pounds to anchor the class. He finished 13-5 at heavyweight last season as a sophomore taking fourth at the Messiah Petrofes. Two returners, Nasser McCummings and Alexis Santana-Quintana, and a rookie Moustafa Almeky round out the rest of the class.

285 – Wilkes will see a new wrestler at heavyweight this year as sophomore transfer Nicholas Goff and freshman Richard Thompson III make up the class. Goff has emerged as the starter having transferred to Wilkes from New England College.

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